Innovative afterschool program for local youth will focus on social emotional learning

Published on Tuesday, 8 December 2020 14:19
Written by Ciara Hooks


NEW BRITAIN – Community Mental Health Affiliates received a $30,000 grant to provide an innovative afterschool program for local youth.

The grant was awarded by the Fund for Greater Hartford to partner with Opportunities Industrialization Center of New Britain, Inc.

“Both CMHA and OICNB have seen firsthand the impact that covid-19 has had on children’s overall well-being and functioning,” said CMHA Clinical Director Christopher Marino, LPC. “Receiving this grant from the Fund for Greater Hartford to provide these resources means everything for New Britain’s youth right now.”

This program aims to help up to 80 middle and high-school aged youth reduce behavioral problems and improve school attendance. It will focus on social emotional learning, which includes social skills development, goal setting, responsible decision making and maintaining positive relationships. The program will also focus on caregiver involvement, providing families with resources and strategies to help reinforce their child’s learning at home.

“The prevalence of depression and anxiety amongst middle and high school children has risen as a result of social isolation and restrictions during the pandemic. At an age where Social Emotional Learning is critical to healthy development, many adolescents will continue to face challenges as the pandemic continues. To be able to offer these resources through an accessible hybrid model through our collaboration with OICNB makes it that much more exciting and rewarding for us,” Marino said.

Over the course of the 2020-21 school year a hybrid curriculum, in person at OIC and virtually via Zoom will be offered by CMHA’s clinical staff.

“Over the past year, OICNB has been very concerned about the mental health of our youth and their families. As we continue to address this pandemic, racial injustice, the 2020 election and the world around us, it is imperative that we create an environment where youth feel safe and know that they are loved and cared for,” said Paulette Fox, OICNB executive director. “OICNB’s mission of empowering and enabling youth to become self-sufficient starts with an environment of Social Emotional Learning, and this new grant from the Fund for Greater Hartford will help us create that environment.”

As members of the Coalition for New Britain’s Youth, CMHA and OICNB share a mission to create a successful future for New Britain’s youth by preparing them to graduate high school and become college and career ready.

“OICNB is excited about our continued partnership with CMHA. This past summer, OICNB, Pathways Senderos, YWCA and HRA partnered with CMHA to do a series of mental health seminars for our summer employment and learning programs, which the youth enjoyed and benefitted from immensely,” Fox said.

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Tuesday, 8 December 2020 14:19. Updated: Tuesday, 8 December 2020 14:21.